There are three spheres of government in South Africa, and the local government is one of them. Interestingly, while this sphere of government sits last on the ranks, it is actually a very important one, since it is closer to the people. And when we talk about local government, we can’t but place emphasis on the place of ward councillors, who are accountable to their ward as well as to the municipal council.
The roles of ward councillors in South Africa are therefore of great value, since they operate from the grassroots. Hence, it is important that those in this position should reside in the areas that they serve so they can be directly involved in the needs of the ward.
Roles Of Ward Councillors In South Africa
Here are some of the crucial responsibilities of a ward councillor in South Africa:
1. Deep Knowledge Of Community Needs
One of the major roles of a ward councillor is to have a good knowledge of the needs of the community and then attend appropriately to them.
There is a structure in place that governs the activities of municipalities. Each financial year, they map out budgets that are used to pursue the development of the regions within their jurisdiction.
Since the councillor is representing his/her community, then they should know their needs. In fact, this knowledge should be very deep, so they can know the needs that should be attended to first before others.
Hence, the councillor is not expected to merely act on his/her own, but is meant to know what the community they are representing is eager for, and then take this to the municipal council.
2. The Community’s Spokesperson
The councillor has a responsibility to speak for the community which they are representing at all times. If, let’s say, their area is going through some sort of issues when it comes to growth and development, they have to speak on behalf of the community where it matters.
As stated already, it is only reasonable that the ward councillor should live within the community he or she is representing, so they can have firsthand knowledge of whatever is going on there without waiting to be told. If their area is facing an issue with service delivery, they are expected to talk on behalf of the community and call for the resolution of the issue.
All ward councillors in South Africa are expected to go about their duties with the consciousness that they must do all it takes to see to a better and improved life for all citizens in their wards.
3. Votes On Behalf Of The People
The roles of ward councillors in South Africa are not only within the boundaries of carrying out services in their respective wards, but they also serves in the council of the municipality.
Several important things are done in the municipal council. Issues affecting the wards belonging to a municipality are discussed in the place, and votes are carried out by the ward councillors seated there for resolutions. Of course, when it’s time to vote for resolutions at the council, not every citizen living there can come in to vote. Therefore, only the ward councillors can cast votes on behalf of everyone in their ward.
4. Monitors The Performance Of The Municipality
Ward councillors in South Africa must ensure accountability as much as possible, as this is very important. Definitely, they can’t go around ordering a municipal official on how they should carry out their own responsibility. Nevertheless, the councillors must keep track of the activities of the municipal officials do. They have the responsibility of seeing to it that the municipal officials will only do things of acceptable standards.
So, let’s say a municipality is going to indulge in a certain project, but nothing is eventually done. Ward councillors are then expected to ask questions on behalf of the people in the ward, until there is accountability.
In fact, let’s say the residents of a ward have the intention to visit the municipality to demand answers, the councillor has to help direct them to the people who they should meet to make things go smoothly.
Important Things You Should Know About Ward Councillors In South Africa
Ward Councillors may not be on the same level with their contemporaries at the national level, but the fact remains that they are very pivotal in the affairs of things, particularly at grassroot level. Therefore, citizens should know who they are as well as what their primary purpose is, so they can particularly know what to do when elections are around.
A ward councillor in South Africa represents a specific ward on the municipal council. This elected officer is voted for via the Local Government Elections.
In South Africa, they are are two types of councillors. The first is the ward councillor, and the other is the proportional representative (PR) councillors. While the former is the chairperson of their ward committees, the latter simply represent a political party on the municipal council. Note that the municipal council is the highest decision making body within the municipality, and it’s a huge platform at the grassroot level.
Hence, while a PR councillor is accountable to his party which nominated him in the first place, the ward councillor is accountable to their wards, and must give special attention to those they are standing for.
The roles of ward councillors in South Africa are broad and crucial at the local level of government in the country, since they are serving a representative role between the areas they represent and the municipal council. The councillor won’t only partake in the municipality council, but should also be present in ward meetings so he can know what the people wants. Indeed, the ward councillor should not just be close to the people, but should be part of them in the community.